Destiny Discover
Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day

By Larry Moko

“Let us play to the best of our ability and have fun with friends. Let us live in the example of God.”

That’s the oath a representative group of student/athletes from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board’s seven high schools recited to kick off the fourth-annual PAL Sports Day at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School Thursday.

Under pleasant spring weather conditions, about 102 special needs student/athletes gathered to take part in six athletic on-field activities. A similar number of peer mentors from their schools were also on hand to offer guidance and support – or as the name suggests, to be a PAL.

Participants rotated through six stations which offered baseball, bocce, volleyball, football, soccer and track race.

A seventh station was included, too, for dance and rest.

“PAL Day is a celebration of sport, of fellowship and of fun,” Bishop Ryan Principal Emidio Piccioni said at opening ceremonies.

Organizers also pointed out that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Each Belongs – a HWCDSB philosophy of inclusive education that supports the full integration of students with special education needs into the mix of the regular student body at mainstream schools. The Hamilton Catholic board was the first in Canada to launch the program.

“You won’t find a better embodiment or demonstration of Each Belongs than things like Pal Day,” Piccioni said.

When asked how he was enjoying the experience, student/athlete William Mendoza of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves said, “Really great.”

Peter Hirmiz, of Brebeuf, who served as Mendoza’s peer mentor, said his 20-year-old pal seemed to be having a good time both socially and athletically.

“This is his last year at Brebeuf and we’re trying to make it the best one yet,” Hirmiz said. “He’s enjoys playing with everyone, talking to others and making new friends. And he’s excited, not nervous, to go on to the next activity.

“This is a great event because it brings out all the schools.”

Hermione Pollard, another peer mentor from Brebeuf, said: “Doing all of these activities is making the lives of everyone who is participating better. It’s amazing. We’re having so much fun.”

When David Hansen, Director of Education for the HWCDSB, greeted the Games participants, he said: “There is nothing better than putting on your school shirt and representing your school. Today is about being active, competing and having fun.”

Representatives from the Hamilton Honey Badgers pro basketball team and the Hamilton Police also were on hand to show their community support.

Select photos on the HWCDSB Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/hwcdsb/

All photos on the HWCDSB Facebook:

Ceremony and Various Photos:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

Bishop Ryan
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

Bishop Tonnos
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

Cardinal Newman
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

Cathedral
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

St. Jean de Brébeuf
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

St. Mary
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...

St. Thomas More
https://www.facebook.com/pg/hwcdsb/photos/ ...




 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day
 Students and peer mentors pal around at 4th annual PAL Day